Role models of greatness.

Here you will discover the back stories of kings, titans of industry, stellar athletes, giants of the entertainment field, scientists, politicians, artists and heroes – all of them gay or bisexual men. If their lives can serve as role models to young men who have been bullied or taught to think less of themselves for their sexual orientation, all the better. The sexual orientation of those featured here did not stand in the way of their achievements.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Dustin Lance Black

December 2013 Update: Click on Tom Daley in the sidebar for details of Mr. Black's personal life.

A personal comment: I have no problem with accommodating people who hold views that differ from my own. That’s what’s great about our country, the USA – we have free speech rights. One thing I’ve come to realize over the years is that I learn more from people whose ideas and causes differ from my own than I do by associating only with those whose thoughts align with mine. The old “two sides to every story” bit actually holds water. However, people who lie or just make up stuff to support their prejudiced diatribes give free speech a bad name.

Academy Award winning screenwriter Dustin Lance Black has done something about it. In 2010 he actually sat in the California federal courtroom (Perry v. Brown) over a three week period to get a first person take on the bigoted defenders who, under oath, revealed one after the other that there were no facts to back up their claims in fighting gay marriage. Proposition 8, which banned same sex marriage, was overturned and ruled unconstitutional – but it’s still not over; the case is surely headed for the U.S. Supreme Court. Black wrote “8", a 90-minute play about the trial, quoting actual transcripts and first hand interviews for a script. A successful reading in NYC led to a YouTube version with a cast that included George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Bomer, Kevin Bacon, Jamie Lee Curtis, Chris Colfer, Jane Lynch, Matthew Morrison, George Takai, Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Martin Sheen (who gives a speech that will make your hair stand on end) – all directed by Rob Reiner.  The play 8 is a powerful account of the case filed by the American Federation for Equal Rights (AFER) in the U.S. District Court in 2010 to overturn Proposition 8, a constitutional amendment that eliminated the rights of same-sex couples to marry in the state of California. Framed around the trial's historic closing arguments in June 2010, 8 provides an intimate look at what unfolded when the issue of same-sex marriage was on trial.

Take six minutes of your time to watch gay screenwriter/activist Dustin Lance Black as he is interviewed about his play “8":

200,000* computers captured the live-streamed YouTube premiere on March 3, now archived on YouTube. Following is the entire broadcast (the play itself is the last 90 minutes of the 2-hr. broadcast; there is an option to skip the first 30 minutes to jump to the start of the play):

*This is an arresting statistic. It would take 21 weeks (5 months) of sold-out performances in a 1,200 seat theatre to reach an audience of 200,000, based on 8 performances a week. Thanks to YouTube, that many people saw it in two hours (at the time I punched in "post" this morning, that number had increased to more than 527,000). It is important to note that the defendants, who had launched a campaign of fear and prejudice, had tried to suppress having the videotapes of the trial released, because they were cast in such an unflattering light. Our laws require that the transcripts of the case, however, be made available. All of the words of the actors in the trial scenes are exactly as recorded in the transcripts.

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